Catholic?

Good morning Pastor George.

Im a little confused about your church website. Under the section “Our beliefs about God” at the end of the page you have written down the apostles creed. In the 9th section you write that you believe in the holy catholic christian church, yet you are called a reformed church. This is where my confusion is how can one be reformed and yet believe in the church they have abandoned? I ask because as a former catholic I am looking for a reformed church to attend. Another question what denomination would you be? Is it called Canadian reformed?

thank you and God bless

Answer:

Hi,

The word “catholic” is a synonym for “universal” or “ecumenical.” It is an adjective describing how our Lord Jesus Christ has been gathering for himself a church from the beginning of the world and will until the end, and out of all peoples and places. This confession (the Apostles’ Creed) goes back to about A.D. 300, long before the Roman Catholic Church existed. The RCC has co-opted the word for itself, and changed it into a proper noun rather than the adjective it originally was.

Also, please note that the creed says, “I believe a holy catholic Christian church” and not “I believe in the…. church.” We believe only in God, not in the church.

For further explanations of what we mean by this article of faith, I would draw your attention to what we say about it in two of our Reformation confessions, here http://www.canrc.org/?page=340 and here http://www.canrc.org/?page=355.

Yes, we belong to the federation of Canadian Reformed Churches. Here is our denominational web page: http://www.canrc.org/

If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. If you are able to attend our service, please come say hi as I’d love to meet you.

God bless!

Pastor George


Living in sin

Dear Pastor George, I am a Christian mother.And i have a 22 year old son.He and his girlfriend are living with me.They have a baby and i just don’t feel right with them living with me because i know they are having sex.I have told them to get married but it seems like they are not wanting to.I need to know what to do..what does the bible say about this issue.Should i tell them to get married or to move out of my house.thank you.

Answer:

Dear Friend, You are right, they should get married. The Bible is quite clear that a sexual relationship before marriage is sinful. If your son honours and respects his girlfriend, he should propose marriage to her. As well, it would only be good for the child they already have. They have a responsibility to provide that child with a stable relationship. Their relationship, as it is, is inherently unstable and not fair to the baby. As for asking them to marry or leave, you could do that. You could give them several months to get married, and say that if they are unwilling, then you can no longer in good conscience let them live under your roof. I wish you much strength in this difficult situation.

May the Lord bless you! Pastor George


Anointing with oil?

(From a pastor elsewhere in the world): When you visit the sick, do you anoint them with oil like in the book of James? How are we to apply James 5:14 today?

Answer:

Dear Colleague: I have never done a careful exegesis of that passage, but I am aware of two explanations, neither of which would suggest that the church of today ought to be anointing the sick with oil. 1st view. James is a very early letter, and the “elders” are the “elders” in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:2) who were still alive at this time. They had a special function in the early church and had special gifts. James tells his readers that if anyone of them was ill, they should ask “the elders of the church,” that is, the church leaders in Jerusalem, the mother church, to come and anoint them with oil and pray over them (the oil represented the Holy Spirit). This special function and gift ceased along with the cessation of the other special charismatic gifts we read about in the apostolic era. 2nd view. Oil was often used as a medicinal agent. So the point is that when people are ill today, they ought to use the medicine the Lord, in his providence, provides today and which is available, and ask the elders of the local congregation to pray with and for them, also asking for a blessing over the medicine. Two views, brother. As I said, I have never studied this in depth, but I think I lean towards the first explanation. Anyway, as I said, neither view encourages us to anoint the sick with oil today. I do not know what function such an act would have. I do not know of any Reformed churches that practises it. Hopefully that helps! gvp

My correspondent’s response: Hi, pastor George. This helps a lot. I agree with the 1st view. Thanks for sharing. Our Pentecostal interpretation and application is corrected.


Presbyterian and Reformed

Hi Pastor George! So I have another church question for you. I have been doing some research on the Presbyterian church, but im having trouble comparing it to the Reformed Church, but it seems to me that they tend to follow similar doctrine from John Calvin, and use the Nicene and the Apostles Creed as well as the Hiedelberg Catechism. All this said, what are the similarities and differences between the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches? Thanks for your time Cheers!

Answer:

Thanks for your question. The differences between the Reformed and Presbyterian churches are not all that great. They are more historical than theological. The word “Presbyterian” comes from the NT Greek word “presbyter” which means “elder.” When they call their churches “Presbyterian,” what they mean to say is that their churches are governed by the presbyters, that is, the elders. In that sense, our Reformed churches are Presbyterian. At the same time, Presbyterian churches are Reformed in doctrine, so they are Reformed. Presbyterian churches hold to the three ecumenical creeds as we do (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian). Instead of the Three Forms of Unity, they have the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. The Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards are, mostly, parallel to each other. Both Reformed and Presbyterian churches have great respect for the theology of John Calvin. The history of the Presbyterian churches goes back to Scotland and England whereas our history goes back to Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Just as there are conservative and liberal Reformed churches, so there are conservative and liberal Presbyterian churches. The Canadian Reformed Churches recognize as sister churches several Presbyterian churches, e.g, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the  Free Church of Scotland. I hope that helps. Pastor George


Resurrection

Dear Pastor, I have come to a crossroads in my beliefs and I wanted to get your input. I grew up in a Christian family and became a devout Christian in high school and early adulthood. However, when I went to graduate school, I came into contact with other worldviews and started to struggle with my beliefs. After years of research, I have come to a fork in the road. After reviewing the evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ, I came to the conclusion that the resurrection is possible, but the evidence far from proves that it happened. From what I learned about reason, the more extreme the claim, the more evidence is needed to support that claim. The resurrection is a very extreme claim! Therefore, though there is evidence supporting the resurrection, it far from proves it. I understand that just because the evidence does not prove the resurrection does not mean it did not happen. In talking with my Christian friends, they say this is where faith should come into play. I understand that faith is important. However, I am starting to wonder if I really want to believe that it happened. Why should I believe in the resurrection? While there are many things I like about Christianity, there are a lot of things I do not like. I do not like feeling the burden that everything I do has eternal consequences, I do not like feeling obligated to read the scriptures which can be boring and fruitless. I do not like being pressured to witness to others when I do not know if I really believe it myself. I could go on. In a nutshell, I feel happier not being a devout Christian. I understand that if the Christian claims are true then I should follow them whether I like them or not. However, again I do not think the evidence proves it.

Answer:

Dear Friend, I agree with you that the claim that Christ rose from the dead is an extreme one. And yet, there is quite a bit of evidence supporting the resurrection of Christ. There are many witnesses. If there are eye witnesses to an event, even as few as two, typically that has been considered enough to conclude that an event happened. Eye witnesses do not prove that the event happened, but their (similar) testimony makes it very likely and believable to the point where something will be considered as proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no physical evidence proving the resurrection of Christ, but there are many witnesses, and they left written records. The eleven disciples saw the risen Jesus and put down in print their testimony. We have letters from Matthew, John and Peter. The risen Christ also appeared to Paul who wrote several times about the appearance. From a legal and forensic point of view, the resurrection of Christ is pretty well attested. In 1 Cor. 15, Paul makes an offhand reference to 500 people having seen the risen Christ. If Christ had not been raised, life would have no meaning at all. The Apostle Paul writes about that in 1 Cor. 15. Then, at the end, all we are is worm food. I think that is not a bad answer to your question: “Why should I believe in the resurrection?” Because we are more than worm food. As for the burden you speak of: Christ bore every burden for us. While on the cross, in the space of time, he bore the eternal consequences of our errors and sins. He says that his burden is light. Believing in him, we need not feel burdened any longer. We need not feel guilty about our weaknesses. I hope this will be of some help to you. If you would like to follow it up some more, I’d welcome that. Sincerely Yours, Pastor George


Why two worship services

I am currently in discussion with a brother in my congregation regarding attendance at the second service. If time  permits and hopefully you have some free, could you send on to me a brief summary as to why the Reformed Church has one. Thanks!

Answer:

Hi! Historically, the 2nd service was a teaching service. Hence, the catechism. In the 1st service, the minister proclaimed the gospel, narrowly, from a specific text; in the 2nd service, he taught the whole counsel of God by way of the summary of doctrine. A good reason to attend the 2nd service as well as the 1st (besides the fact that the elders, in the Name of Christ, call the congregation together) is for the sake of receiving this good balance of both proclamation and instruction. Pastor George


Pentecostal vs Reformed

Hey Pastor, long time no see.

It might seem kind of random that I am emailing you but I have a question for you.

A friend of mine goes to a Pentecostal church and keeps bugging me to come out and try it out. But I don’t know anything about that church, could you possibly enlighten me?

I am not thinking about changing churches but I would like to know how they compare to a Reformed Church. I read their faith statement online but couldn’t figure out where they were going with it all.

Thanks for your time. Cheers.

Hi,

Good to hear from you again.

Just like there are differences between various Reformed churches, so there are differences between various Pentecostal churches. Having said that, there are some main similarities.

1. They emphasize the continuing gifts of Pentecost (Acts 2), especially that of speaking in tongues. Whereas the Reformed churches believe those gifts have ceased with the death of the apostles and the closing of the canon of the New Testament, they believe they are still in force. If you were to go to such a church, it would not be unusual for someone to stand up and start speaking in a “language” that no one would understand. I put “language” in scare quotes, because it would not be any real language but, to put it bluntly, gibberish. The chapter of the NT to study is 1 Cor 14 (with a reliable commentary).

2. So far as I know, all Pentecostal churches reject the Reformed view of the covenant and infant baptism. They will hold to a believer baptism.

3. They will reject the Reformed teachings of salvation and embrace, rather, an Arminian doctrine.

I hope that helps. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Pastor George